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Full text of "My Country And My People"

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THE    ART    OF    LIVING                    309

moon, we could then receive its benefits both at night and

Again, we see some very good sense in his advice on women's

The important thing about women's dress is not fineness of
material but neatness, not gorgeous beauty but elegance, not
that it agrees with her family standing but that it agrees with
her face. . . . If you take a dress and let several women try
it on in succession, you will see that it agrees with some and
not with others, because the complexion must harmonize
with the dress. If a wealthy lady's face does not agree with
rich patterns but agrees with simple colours, and she should
insist on having rich patterns, would not her dress be the
enemy of her face? . . . Generally, one whose complexion
is white and soft and whose figure is light and round will
be shown to advantage in any dress. Light colours will show
her whiteness but deep colours will still better show her
whiteness. Dresses of fine material will show her delicacy
but dresses of coarse material will still better show her
delicacy. . . . But how few women are of this type? The
average woman must choose her dress, and must not take
any kind of material. . . .

When I was young, I remember the young girls used to
wear shades of pink, and the older women used to wear
mauve, and later scarlet was changed for pink, and blue was
substituted for mauve, and still later scarlet gave place to
purple and blue gave place to green. After the change of the
dynasty [beginning of Manchu regime], both green and
purple disappeared, and both young and old women changed
into black.

Then Li Liweng went on to discuss the great virtue of black,
his favourite colour: how it fitted all complexions and all ages,
and how among the poor it enabled them to wear a dress
longer without showing dirt, and how among the rich they
could wear beautiful colours underneath, so that when the
wind blew* the beautiful colours would be revealed underneath^
leaving a great deal to the imagination.